Skip to content
Register Sign in Wishlist

Moral Authority, Men of Science, and the Victorian Novel


Part of Cambridge Studies in Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture

  • Date Published: January 2016
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781316600948

£ 19.99

Add to cart Add to wishlist

Other available formats:
Hardback, eBook

Looking for an inspection copy?

This title is not currently available on inspection

Product filter button
About the Authors
  • Nineteenth-century men of science aligned scientific practice with moral excellence as part of an endeavor to secure cultural authority for their discipline. Anne DeWitt examines how novelists from Elizabeth Gaskell to H. G. Wells responded to this alignment. Revising the widespread assumption that Victorian science and literature were part of one culture, she argues that the professionalization of science prompted novelists to deny that science offered widely accessible moral benefits. Instead, they represented the narrow aspirations of the professional as morally detrimental while they asserted that moral concerns were the novel's own domain of professional expertise. This book draws on works of natural theology, popular lectures, and debates from the pages of periodicals to delineate changes in the status of science and to show how both familiar and neglected works of Victorian fiction sought to redefine the relationship between science and the novel.

    • Engages with current issues in literary studies alongside debates in the history of science
    • Presents fresh readings of canonical texts and rediscovers neglected novels
    • Proposes a new methodology for studying the relationship of literature and science
    Read more

    Reviews & endorsements

    '… a confident and provocative work that has an impressively large bibliography and ambitious scope.' Amy M. King, Victorian Periodical Review

    '… an interdisciplinary and ambitious study that delivers a collection of chapters covering such scientific topics as astronomy, medicine, scientific naturalism and vivisection. … Every chapter exhibits an array of fascinating primary evidence that demonstrates her own commitment to investigating the 'surface' as to the opposed hidden meaning of Victorian texts. … In doing so, the study presents a compelling, persuasive and confident study that offers sharp and intelligent readings of the nineteenth-century novel and its relationship to experimental science. … insightful and provocative. Moral Authority, Men of Science, and the Victorian Novel proposes an important assembly of questions and provides some robust and intriguing answers of its own. Ann Loveridge, British Society for Literature and Science Reviews (

    See more reviews

    Customer reviews

    Not yet reviewed

    Be the first to review

    Review was not posted due to profanity


    , create a review

    (If you're not , sign out)

    Please enter the right captcha value
    Please enter a star rating.
    Your review must be a minimum of 12 words.

    How do you rate this item?


    Product details

    • Date Published: January 2016
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781316600948
    • length: 290 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 15 mm
    • weight: 0.4kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. The religion of science from natural theology to scientific naturalism
    2. Moral uses, narrative effects: natural history in the novels of George Eliot and Elizabeth Gaskell
    3. 'The actual sky is a horror': Thomas Hardy and the problems of scientific thinking
    4. 'The moral influence of those cruelties': the vivisection debate, antivivisection fiction, and the status of Victorian science
    5. Science, aestheticism, and the literary career of H. G. Wells

  • Author

    Anne DeWitt, Princeton University, New Jersey
    Anne DeWitt is a lecturer in the Princeton Writing Program, Princeton University, New Jersey.

Sign In

Please sign in to access your account


Not already registered? Create an account now. ×

Sorry, this resource is locked

Please register or sign in to request access. If you are having problems accessing these resources please email

Register Sign in
Please note that this file is password protected. You will be asked to input your password on the next screen.

» Proceed

You are now leaving the Cambridge University Press website. Your eBook purchase and download will be completed by our partner Please see the permission section of the catalogue page for details of the print & copy limits on our eBooks.

Continue ×

Continue ×

Continue ×

Find content that relates to you

Join us online

This site uses cookies to improve your experience. Read more Close

Are you sure you want to delete your account?

This cannot be undone.


Thank you for your feedback which will help us improve our service.

If you requested a response, we will make sure to get back to you shortly.

Please fill in the required fields in your feedback submission.